UW plans grand expansion of Canada's largest mathematics and computer science outreach program



    WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 8 /CNW/ - The University of Waterloo will greatly
expand Canada's largest youth outreach program in mathematics and computer
science - currently reaching close to half-a-million young people - because of
a gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    The US$12.5-million donation is a "visionary gift," says David Johnston,
president of the University of Waterloo. "It will allow our Centre for
Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) to expand its world-class
outreach program to reach hundreds of thousands more youth and educators
around the world."
    UW and the foundation share a common goal to give young people the
opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in an
ever-changing world.
    "The University of Waterloo has established a record of academic
excellence, fostering intellectual growth in the fields of math and computer
science," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We are proud to support the university's efforts to prepare the next
generation of students for a world of innovation."
    The gift comes at a time of growing concern about the decline in interest
of young people in the fields of mathematics and computer science across North
America.
    The most recent Statistics Canada figures show that the number of
students enrolled in undergraduate programs in mathematics, computer science
and information sciences dropped by 8.7 per cent between the 2000-01 and
2004-05 academic years. The significant decline occurred while total
undergraduate enrolment soared by 21.6 per cent over the same period.
    Thomas F. Coleman, dean of the faculty of mathematics, says the gift will
allow the centre to significantly enhance outreach efforts, including its
contests, workshops and Internet resources aimed at secondary and elementary
school students and teachers. The CEMC currently reaches around
450,000 students in Grades 4 to 12 and 10,000 teachers annually, mainly in
Canada.
    With the shift to an increasingly knowledge-based society, Coleman says
there will be a huge need for people skilled in mathematics and computer
science. "This gift will make an enormous difference in helping us to advocate
to a much larger youth audience throughout Canada, the United States and
elsewhere in the world about the importance of considering an education in
those areas."
    Coleman adds he hopes this grant "will inspire significant additional
support from individuals and foundations, as well as the private and public
sectors. We welcome additional partners to this exciting venture."

    
    With the gift, the CEMC will:

    -   Dramatically improve access to CEMC enrichment and outreach
        activities, focusing in part on young women and those facing
        geographic or economic barriers to learning.

    -   Develop a 'train the trainers' network for mathematics and computer
        science teachers. The network will then deliver outreach programs at
        the grassroots level. These programs will stimulate interest, build
        skills and increase awareness of the opportunities available in
        mathematics and computer science.

    -   Expand the centre's extensive education network by collaborating with
        more elementary and secondary schools and school boards.

    -   Develop a community of educators, industry representatives, local
        organizations and governments to be an advocate for education, issues
        and opportunities in mathematics and computer science.

    -   Continue enhancing the quality of the centre's current programs,
        especially global contests, enrichment programs and school visits.
    

    About the University of Waterloo's faculty of mathematics

    The University of Waterloo's faculty of mathematics is the world's
largest centre for education in mathematical, statistical and computer
sciences. It is one of only four such faculties in the world. With more than
5,300 students, 185 full-time faculty members, and 180 courses in
mathematical, statistical and computer sciences, the faculty is a powerhouse
of discovery and innovation.

    About the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing

    Formally established in 1995, but with mathematics contest activity
dating back to the early 1960s, the CEMC is Canada's largest mathematics and
computer science outreach program. Its activities have produced a successful
model for reaching math and computer science students for youths and
educators. During the last year alone, CEMC's contests, workshops and Internet
resources have impacted more than 450,000 students (in Grades 4 to 12) and
almost 10,000 teachers at about 1,500 schools, primarily throughout Canada.





For further information:

For further information: Thomas F. Coleman, dean of the faculty of
mathematics, (519) 888-4567 ext. 84480; Ian VanderBurgh, CEMC director, (519)
888-4567 ext. 32358; Michael Strickland, UW media relations, (519) 888-4777


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